Autism Counseling: What to Expect

Having a child diagnosed with autism can feel overwhelming. The good news is research has led to a greater understanding of autism and, as a result, there are a wide variety of effective strategies available. Complementary approaches, targeted strategies, and medication are some of the options designed to help your child meet the challenges of autism head on. Getting the assistance your child needs begins with seeing a counselor. If you have your first appointment with a counselor, here's what you can expect.


An initial counseling interview is generally the first step to receiving services for your child. The initial interview is typically conducted only with the parents or guardians, and is meant to provide the counselor with enough information about your child to determine your child's needs. You can expect the counselor to ask many in-depth questions about your child's development. Because autism falls on a spectrum, affected children have a wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability. The counselor will want to know about any repetitive behaviors or symptoms that affect your child's ability to function at school and in other areas of life, like social interactions. 


Following the initial interview, the counselor will engage your child during an evaluation session. The counselor will observe as your child plays with familiar toys and games, and engages in other activities. During the evaluation, the counselor will also observe how you interact with your child. In some circumstances, standardized assessment tasks may be used. During the standardized portion, parents are instructed not to assist their children. It's important for the counselor to assess your child's ability to complete certain tasks without help. This will give the counselor better guidance on the type of care your child needs. 

Goals and Plan of Care

After the assessment, you can expect the counselor to discuss any concerns and work together with you to select specific behavior targets. Baseline performance will determine the behavior targets and plan of care. This will provide a way of measuring whether the treatment is working. Your counselor may recommend one-on-one therapy, which is designed to teach your child skills by breaking them down into smaller steps using methods that are scientifically validated for autism spectrum disorders. You can expect to receive a complete plan of care packet, along with a copy of your child's assessment. After your appointment, you should have a clear idea of the next steps in your child's treatment plan.

To learn more, talk to companies like ABC Pediatric Therapy.